By Iddi Yire
Accra, July 31, GNA- Mr Wilfred Neneh Addico, an expert in forensic investigation, has called on internal auditors in the public service to embrace skills that will enable them to discharge their duties effectively and help fight fraud and corruption.
Mr Addico made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the sidelines of a Forensic Investigation Training workshop, organized by Makers and Partners, a chartered accountancy firm licensed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants Ghana.
The workshop, which was attended by about 25 internal auditors of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), aimed at sharing insights and expertise to equip the Internal Auditors with requisite skills for forensic investigation to safeguard MoFA from internal threats, such as fraud, misconduct, and abuse.
Mr Addico, who facilitated the event, told GNA that from the discussions, he observed that usually fraud incidents come to the MoFA Internal Audit Function by referrals from management.
He proposed that if the Internal Audit Function were to be effective in carrying out investigations, the mandate for forensic investigation should be embedded into their Audit Charter, which would provide the power, support, and guidelines for effective fraud risk management.
Mr Addico said an amended Charter that catered for fraud risk management would make room for a mandate to develop and maintain a dedicated forensic investigation unit and guided collaboration with other state institutions with a mandate for investigating fraud within the public sector.
He said the forensic investigation started with good planning taking almost 50 per cent of the work which ensured that the objectives of the investigation were realized.
“Apart from taking the participants through the intricacies of effective planning of an investigation, the team learnt practical and useful skills for evidence gathering and preservation using the appropriate techniques and tools including adequate documentation to procedures performed to obtain evidence.”
He noted that Maker and Partners were creating a community of forensic investigators in Ghana and promised to support members who join the community with the resources and tools to become proficient investigators by dissecting complex financial transactions, identifying discrepancies, and ensuring that their organization’s financial fortunes and reputation are preserved.
Mr Alfred Aryee, partner at Makers and Partners also told GNA that the project was part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), involving reaching out to governmental institutions to assist in the fight against fraud.
He stated that because the Firm’s front liners were members of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, this would also create a platform to share past experiences in fraud-related issues.
Mr Aryee said the gesture was intended to build capacity and give free training for internal auditors so they could undertake forensic audits and report their results.
He stated the Auditor-General’s (AG) Annual Reports usually emphasized issues of theft of funds and irregularities; saying “We believe if the various institutions are empowered when it comes to forensic investigations such things can be curtailed before they even reach the AG.”
Mr Isaac Adjin Bonney, Chief Internal Auditor at MoFA, commended Makers and Partners for the laudable initiative; saying, the training had given them skills and knowledge needed to improve their reporting and internal audit work.
He said investigative bodies request internal audit reports hence the need to enhance their skill, especially in forensic investigations so reports could stand the test of the law courts.
The Chief Internal Auditor said good reporting touches on the root cause and checked irregularities that appeared at the Public Accounts Committee, adding that “most of them are not corruption issues but irregularities.”